Adding missing towns and villages in OSM

Posted by Jothirnadh on 25 November 2015 in English. Last updated on 14 September 2018.

Adding missing towns and villages in OSM (India)

In India, there are ~7935 cities/towns officially recognized by the Government of India according to the 2011 census. But in OSM, there are only 3352 (as of 2015-11-23) cities/towns mapped as place node.

As the first step of mapping, it is important to mark all the major cities and towns in the country. The Mapbox data team did some background analysis of the data in OSM and compared it to other publicly datasets. This guide will walk through the step of using a public domain map layer from for improving the location of India’s towns/cities in OSM using JOSM.

Download JOSM

  • JOSM - If you are new to JOSM you can find help in this guide

Add the GNS layer in JOSM’s Imagery Preferences

  • To add the GNS layers within JOSM, go to Imagery > Imagery Preferences.
  • Add a new WMS entry.
  • In the Enter service URL, paste the following parameters:{proj}&WIDTH={width}&HEIGHT={height}&BBOX={bbox}. Click Get layers.
  • In the Select layers, choose the Approved_(N) layers.
  • In the Image format, choose image/png. Click OK adding gns layer

Load background layers in JOSM

  • Add Bing imagery as the satellite background.
  • To add the added GNS layer, click Imagery > Approved_(N)
  • Note: Click ok for the warning then JOSM will take care of the image projection issues.

adding gns and bing layers

Start editing OSM data

  • Download the data in OSM.
  • Use the Geonames layer as a reference for missing towns/cities within your editing area.
  • Make sure that you download an OSM data layer of the location you are working on and if the data is missing add it to the map. The tags that can be added to a place can be found here
  • NOTE: GNS data accuracy varies from place to place. Refer to the satellite imagery to accurately position the nodes you added in OSM.
  • Upload your edits and the following comments:

changeset comment: "Add place town nodes" source comment: "Bing, WMS"

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Location: Hoysala Nagara, East Zone, Bengaluru, Bangalore North, Bengaluru Urban District, Karnataka, 560038, India


Comment from MapMakinMeyers on 26 November 2015 at 15:11

Jothirnadh, I will send you some updated nga locations and will shift them based on macthing village and urban area within settlement to help your team. I can send in a csv or shapefile format. I will do Karnataka as a poc for your team message me your email

Today is thanksgiving in the US so I will be with friends and family, but will be working on this for you guys here and there.


Comment from manings on 27 November 2015 at 07:19

@MapMakingMeyers, I saw your diary about India villages. Were you able to categorize from BGA data which of the populated places/settlemenst are towns, cities and villages? I cannot find any reference in CSV columns.

Thanks for helping, btw. Happy thanksgiving!

Comment from aintgd on 19 January 2016 at 13:59

I’m using JOSM 9060 on Ubuntu. This is not working on it for some reason. It’s okay till adding the URL, png image, and then OK, but the layer is not showing up in the images list. Any reason?

Comment from Jothirnadh on 19 January 2016 at 14:20

Hello Ganesh Dhamodkar,

Can you try again after updating the JOSM version. It’s perfectly working for me. Also don’t forget to select the Approved layers in select layers section. It will by default create a layer with the name “ Approved_(N)” and will only be activated once we load the bing imagery as background.

Comment from aintgd on 19 January 2016 at 18:18

It’s working now; thanks! This is huge :-)

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